Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday came out guns blazing against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu over the CHP’s decision to reject a motion to extend the military’s mandate to launch cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq by two more years, accusing him of caving to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP), Turkish media reported.
“Kılıçdaroğlu has become the yes-man of the HDP,” Erdoğan said, speaking at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday extended the military’s mandate to launch cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq by two more years. The motion was first approved in 2013 to support the international campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and has since been renewed annually.
The AKP and its election partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), voted “yes” on the extension of the mandate, along with the opposition İYİ (Good) Party.
For the first time since 2013, the CHP voted against the measure, voting “no” along with the HDP.
Erdoğan said the CHP leader was ignorant about military affairs, to the extent that he is taking them for child’s play.
Turkey and its proxies have seized control of territory inside Syria over several military operations launched since 2016 against ISIL and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.
Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly war against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
“The important point here is the CHP’s surrender and submission to terrorist tool the HDP. Pity. Such a tragic picture for our democracy and national security,” Erdoğan said, referring to his party’s line portraying the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful resolution to the struggle for recognition of Turkey’s Kurds and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s rule.
Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.
Erdoğan’s speech was accompanied by a video presentation that compiled Kılıçdaroğlu’s statements toward various segments of AKP supporters, criticizing his use of “polarizing language.”
The video also featured footage from a mob attack on the CHP leader in 2019 as he attended the funeral of a Turkish soldier who died during a skirmish with PKK militants.
According to the CHP, it was a premeditated and organized attempt at the lynching of its chair, which security officials failed to prevent.
Critics viewed the inclusion of these images in the video as an implicit threat to the opposition leader, who has increasingly started to challenge the AKP’s narrative on national security and the definition of terrorism.